University of Wollongong academic Dr Adam Lucas welcomes NSW opposition calls for the federal government to extend its JobKeeper program to public universities.
"The loss of 1600 jobs in the sector plus thousands more casual contract workers, is going to have a really dramatic negative effect on many of the communities in which those people live," he said.
But the Bachelor of Arts academic program director, argues there are far more fundamental problems around management and governance of universities that needs to be addressed.
"We've seen increasing dependence on international student revenue. At the same time both the Coalition and Labor have cut their overall contributions to university funding over the last few decades," Dr Lucas said.
"Currently [the federal government] only contribute about a third of our total revenue and international fees contribute about a quarter of the total.
"We've also seen reckless investment in construction, a massive growth in expenditure on consultancy and marketing by university executives.
"As a result full-time and casual staff are now having to pay for the imprudent management by university councils and executives.
"We really need to see some major changes to university governance and the way the money in education is expanded and what our sources of revenue are."
Dr Lucas was hoping the current situation would serve as a wake-up call for struggling universities.
"We've just seen a collapse in a quarter of our revenue as a result of the international student market drying up ... but this has been done with the cooperation of university executives and councils.
"They are the ones who have been ramping up this whole process and marketing increasingly to foreign students.
"In 1990 five per cent of our students were international students, now it is about 30 per cent.
We are not corporations. We are not-for-profit public institutions, and we should be getting back to our core business of teaching and research, not speculation into property investment and into other areas of activity which are not part of the university's core business.UOW academic Dr Adam Lucas
"So there is increasing reliance on international student fees to pay for the shortfall in government expenditure in the tertiary sector. It is not sustainable."
Dr Lucas wants the federal government to increase funding for the tertiary sector and for there to be some "radical revisions of university governance".
"Most of the people on our university council are accountants, economists and investment bankers," he said.
"We are not corporations. We are not-for-profit public institutions, and we should be getting back to our core business of teaching and research, not speculation into property investment and into other areas of activity which are not part of the university's core business."
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